Yesterday, I finished Thich Nhat Hanh’s Peace is Every Step, an excellent written meditation to help foster mindfulness and awareness.
Often, Thich Nhat Hanh suggests that we would benefit to become more aware of nature. This is both to increase our level of mindfulness, and to reduce the suffering in others’ lives. When we are disrespectful to the Earth, we are being disrespectful to all other living beings and to ourselves since we are all connected. When we become more aware, more conscious, we are naturally inclined to be more respectful of the Earth.
Thich Nhat Hanh also mentions a concept that is increasing in the consciousness of humans: the more disconnected from nature (our true selves) we are, the more likely we are to become sick (whether it is in the mind or body).
Nature is our mother. Because we live cut off from her, we get sick. Some of us live in boxes called apartments, very high above the ground. Around us are only cement, metal, and hard things like that. Our fingers do not have a chance to touch the soil; we don’t grow lettuce anymore. Because we are so distant from our Mother Earth, we become sick. That is why we need to go out from time to time to be in nature. It is very important. We and our children should be in touch again with Mother Earth. In many cities, we cannot see trees — the color green is entirely absent from our view.
The scientist in me wants to pull up my EndNote files (a program used to organize reference papers) and provide a list of studies that support this assertion — seeing and being in nature promote health while the absence of nature in our lives promotes dis-ease. However, I don’t think a litany of scientific studies are necessary to prove this point — I think we know this to be true deep in our bodies.
As we wandered around Honey Horn yesterday, I certainly knew this to be true.
I also observed it in my partner as he slowed down and became fully present to watch crabs scurrying across the sand, over the footprints uncovering where raccoons had recently wandered.
Our breathing deepened, our minds slowed, and we were present. We began seeing things that others were missing in their hurry. We saw an osprey overlooking the salt marsh.
And as we continued in our slow observation, a flock of ibis swooped in to forage while the tide was out.
Another sentinel was perched above, getting ready to begin foraging again.
We felt content and revitalized in a way that is difficult to come by in the midst of hurry and concrete.
I wonder what peace we will find today!